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Sunday, May 3, 2009

Best (& Worst) Green Efforts: Electronics Companies

If you're the type of person that keeps the good of the environment in mind when purchasing electronics, you may want to check with Greenpeace the next time you're eyeing the latest Mac or looking for a new cell phone. From lowing e-waste to not using harmful chemicals to make products, more electronics companies are making a commitment to change the way they do business. Let's take a look at a few earth-friendly winners and losers in the electronics world, and their policies concerning toxic substances, energy use, recycling and climate change. Green Policy Winners Nokia (7.5) Greenpeace has rewarded Nokia with the cream of the crop ranking for best green business policies because of their recent CO2 emissions reduction targets. Spanning 84 countries, Nokia has also implemented a wide-ranging voluntary take-back program that collects cells phones no longer in use. While Nokia makes great strides in recycled packaging, Greenpeace would like to see the company increase their effort in recycling plastics. Samsung (6.9) With a commitment to global climate change cuts, Samsung scored higher this year and moved up two places in the ranking. Playing an important role in phasing out the use of PVC, all new models of Samsung LCD panels no longer use the material since November 2007 – exceptional…considering Samsung is the top global supplier. They have also made a promise to eliminate the use of phthalates and beryllium by the end of 2012 from all products, including computers, cell phones, and televisions. The company has also developed halogen-free memory chips and semiconductors for some products. Phillips (5.7) Showing the largest improvement in green business practices, Phillips leaped 11 places with significant improvements in their recycling policies. Since Phillips lobbied against the principle of Individual Producer Responsibility (IPR), Greenpeace administered a penalty last year against the company, which greatly hurt their previous ranking. Today, Phillips supports IPR, voluntary take-back programs, and reports the recycling rate of e-waste collected in Europe. Sony (5.5) Rising two places in the Greenpeace ranking, Sony reports notable improvements in producing energy efficient products. All new models of televisions and 45% of new VAIO models meet the latest ES requirements. New green business policy commitments also include cutting GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions. However, Sony still needs to set a target and timeline for increasing their use of renewable energy on a global basis. In the Middle Apple (4.7) Scoring well in chemicals elimination, improved recycling efforts, and the green capacity of MacBooks, Apple has moved up four places in the Greenpeace ranks. However, the company still needs to take a look at their energy practices. All Apple products are currently free of PVC and BFRs, with the exception of PVC-free power cords awaiting certification. Greenpeace still frowns upon Apple using "unreasonably high threshold limits for BFRs and PVC in products that are allegedly PVC-/BFR-free." Suggested improvements for a better ranking: improved chemical policies, better reporting on the management of chemicals, and phasing out other harmful substances. Green Policy Losers Panasonic (4.3) Poor energy efficiency reporting is one of the reasons that Panasonic has fallen three places in the Greenpeace ranking. The company also does not report to the "latest Energy Star TV standard v.3.0 or to the latest ES External Power Supplies standard v.2.0." Dell (3.7) Dell continues to drop, receiving a penalty for breaking their commitment to phasing out toxic substances by the end of 2009. Although the company made a promise to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the energy efficiency of Dell products ranks poorly. Microsoft (2.7) Performing badly on e-waste efforts, Microsoft fails to clarify recycling data and doesn’t show support for Individual Producer Responsibility. HP (2.7) Failing to stick to commitments for phasing out the use of harmful chemicals by the end of 2009, HP has no products on the market that are free of toxic substances. Nintendo (0.8) Once again in last place, Nintendo has yet to improve on e-waste efforts, failed to set timelines for phasing out harmful chemicals, and contributed a 6% rise in CO2 emissions in 2006. Other notable mentions include:
  • Acer (4.5) – Scored poorly regarding e-waste, but has committed to phasing out harmful chemicals.
  • Sharp (4.9) – Implemented a new recycling plan for the United States but is weak on global emissions reduction.
  • Motorola (5.3) – Needs to improve on waste and energy efforts.
  • LG Electronics (5.5) – Has backtracked on a commitment to phase out toxic substances in all products..
  • Sony Ericsson (5.7) – Although all products are PVC-free, the company ranks poorly in the recycling department
Source: Green Tea Magazine Image Sources: Nokia, Apple, Motorola,Wikipedia

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